Emma-Kate Codrington is the founder, creator and all-round #girlboss behind stationery label – Emma Kate Co.
Emma Kate Co. is a stationery, lifestyle + travel brand and blog for curious wayfarers. With simple brush strokes, fresh designs and words to stir the soul, weaving conscious, considered, generous details into every little thing made. Now two years old, Emma-Kate Co have established an inimitable creative presence and highly engaged, rapidly growing following, with over 250 wholesale partners, customers in over 60 countries, and a community of huge hearts from every corner of the globe.
The Real Life Instyle Experience panel is back at Training Wheels Melbourne and we are so honored to have Emma-Kate part of this accomplished line-up. Training Wheels Melbourne is an inspiring, one-day workshop that will help you prepare for your wholesale journey ahead. Ready to pass on her wholesale wisdom gathered through her own wholesale journey, learn from Emma-Kate about the do’s & don’ts of exhibiting at Life Instyle.
We took 5 minutes to have a chat with Emma, to find out a little more about what inspired her to take the leap into wholesale.
As long as I can remember, I have always been obsessed with everything paper and words. I studied graphic design, and during uni I earned my living with freelance wedding stationery. One bride had happened to noticed on my neat handwriting and requested it as the signature design feature across her entire stationery suite, and at that point, I really fell in love with typography. I practised and honed my handwriting style for years before I ever knew it was called ‘lettering’.
My first job out of uni was working for a boutique stationery brand, and although my role was in PR and creative, I learned a lot about publishing, trade shows and what running a stationery brand looked and felt like.
When I decided to leap into my own brand, many years later, it made sense to start with what I knew, and go from there. Stationery has never really been the end goal, but it felt a good foundation to build from, and a good way to start!
What inspired you to make the leap into wholesale?
I started with wholesale, right from my brand’s launch. I hadn’t really considered any other way – I had been a part of trade shows with my first job many years ago, and after visiting the key Australian trade shows, Life in Style felt like the right fit for my brand. So I signed up, and I never looked back.
This year, I’ve booked in to do the New York trade show (next month) which has been a bucket-list show I have always dreamed of doing. It feels BIG and unknown, but very exciting. Expanding into the US market and our wholesale base internationally is a key goal. I also have a number of creative collaborations and projects beckoning, as soon as I have the energy and time of day to invest in them!
What is the number 1 mistake you have learned from over the years?
Saying yes to everything. It’s still an ongoing lesson, for me – I find it hard to not get excited about opportunities that come my way and I find it hard to say no. But I know that in honour and pursuit of the priorities that really align for me, and the brand, you cannot say yes to everything.
How has your business changed since exhibiting as part of Life Instyle?
Life Instyle has been pivotal for getting my brand out there. My first trade show was essentially the launch of Emma Kate Co. and after that first show, I suddenly found myself with over fifty retailers around Australia and New Zealand who had signed on to stock our products in their stores. Life Instyle has continued to an invaluable way to get in front of new retail buyers, and catch up with our existing stockists, in the one place and within a condensed space of time.
Aside from that, the chance to connect with fellow makers, start ups and dream chasing entrepreneurs has been very profound too – prompting collaborations, forging friendships, and as it turned out, it’s also how I met my (now) partner. We met at my very first trade event, even though it took us a few months to find our way to each other again, and start our relationship. Life Instyle has been business building and life changing for me, literally.
To consider the retailer, at the core of every detail – and to ask: how can we offer the best experience for them? It must be overwhelming as a retailer to have to walk through hundreds of stalls, seek out the right products, curate and decide on colourways and quantities, and then navigate delivery timelines, budget and logistics. So we do our best to make our end to end experience like a breath of fresh air, and easy.
We have fresh flowers at my stand, we have our ordering processes and terms efficient, clear and simple. We offer them water, and bags to hold their piles of catalogues. We give hugs, freely!
We don’t see Life Instyle as a place to push our product onto people and convince retailers we’re the best. The retailers we meet and work with become our brand ambassadors. They understand the very ethos of why we do what we do – they know our story – and the layers of love imbued into every detail. Relationships are everything – so focus on nurturing these partnerships, over a quick sale.
After exhibiting at Life Instyle Sydney 2018, what did you learn?
A lot of retailers always walk into our booth and ask “what’s ‘new’?”. I always struggle with this – as essentially, our entire brand is young and all of our work is still ‘new’! I don’t believe in fast fashion, or in constantly replacing artwork that has barely been on shelves, for the sake of ‘new’. It’s something that doesn’t sit right with me. I want to consolidate our signature, evergreen collections that I know always sell brilliantly, and instead, work on new products – homeware, travel accessories and lifestyle offerings that we haven’t offered before.